ISIS has issued attack threats against European and possibly North American targets in the coming month, with the Department of Homeland Security particularly worried about the possibility of terror attacks on July 4th, when Americans will likely be gathered together in large crowds.
As ABC News reports, a memo issued Tuesday jointly by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, entitled “Holiday Celebrations Remain Attractive Target,” warns that Independence Day celebrations, or any other actions that ISIS deems as defaming the Prophet Mohammed, are “likely [to] result in threats or plans to conduct violent extremist acts.”
ISIS operatives have been using social media to encourage its members, in the U.S. and elsewhere, to carry out so-called “lone wolf” attacks – that is, attacks in which an individual terrorist acts alone, rather than coordinating with other terrorists.
“[Attacks by] U.S. based [ISIS] supporters could happen with little to no warning.”
The memo also warns U.S. service members to be careful about what they post on social media – including, for example, their locations or activities – lest their posts “attract violent extremists’ attention.”
As of this writing, ISIS is not known to have carried out any terrorist attacks in the United States. The last terrorist attack in the U.S. – the San Bernadino attacks – were carried out by self-radicalized individuals who were not known to have met with any ISIS operatives and were not known to be taking orders from ISIS. ISIS did not claim responsibility for that attack, according to CNN.
However, several would-be ISIS supporters in the U.S. have been arrested, usually following undercover FBI stings. According to a December 2015 Huffington Post report, between March 2014 and December 2015, 71 individuals were arrested for various offenses related to involvement with ISIS.
Most of those individuals were young and male, according to Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism.
“The average age is 26, but in one-third of the cases, they were 21 years or younger.”
Meanwhile, in Europe, major cities such as London, Rome, and Berlin have been listed, by name, as potential targets in a recent video released by ISIS’ Alwa’ad media arm, according to The Times of India.
Narrated by a male speaking English with a thick Arab accent, the video, entitled “Fight Them, Allah Will Punish Them By Your Hands,” warns of potential Paris-style attacks in Europe.
“If it was Paris yesterday… tomorrow it will be London, or Berlin, or Rome. Nations of the cross, this message is for you. Know that your options are few, either you join Islam, or pay tribute, or freeze the war.”
The November 13, 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris were the deadliest terrorist attacks ever carried out in Europe, and were the deadliest civilian massacre in Europe since World War II. The attacks claimed the lives of 130 people and injured over 300.
Months later, shortly after Belgian police arrested the last suspect in the Paris attacks – as well as individuals believed to have provided him with money and support – ISIS operatives attacked the Brussels airport and a downtown train station, killing 32 victims (and the suicide bombers themselves) and injuring over 300.
Meanwhile, ISIS appears to be losing ground both on the military front in Syria, as well as suffering blowback from European Muslims upset at the attacks on their own communities, according to a terrorism expert.
“Its communication is in crisis. These indiscriminate attacks have fallen on multi-cultural cities with exactly the kind of Muslim populations they are trying to recruit.”
As of this writing, there are no specific ISIS attack threats against any targets in the U.S.
[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]